MIDI keyboards are a building block of a studio together with a laptop, DAW, and headphones. A MIDI keyboard refers to a piano style interface that is capable of transferring Midi signals to connected devices. These signals can be transferred via USB or MIDI cable. It can be difficult to find the best MIDI keyboard because the market is flooded with many options.
If you are purchasing your first keyboard for Ableton Live, you need to look at the following reviews. In this article, we are going to look at the top 7 best MIDI keyboard for Ableton reviews, including the buyer’s guide.
7 Best MIDI Keyboard For Ableton Reviews
Do I Need a MIDI Keyboard for Ableton?
Yes. Choosing a MIDI keyboard for Ableton Live is important because it comes with the functions and features which let you be more creative while creating a song and launching clips. Also, a MIDI keyboard comes equipped with Ableton Live Lite which is a feature that music producers will love.
If you want to take full control over your workflow in stage or studio then you need to get the best MIDI keyboard for Ableton. These keyboards are fun and easy to create music with. They come with DAW integration which determines what the MIDI controller can best work with.
The best MIDI keyboard for Ableton can work with Mac and Windows computers. Therefore, they are compatible with iOS devices like the latest iPad and iPhone. You can find the MIDI keyboard for Ableton that comes with additional features such as knobs, buttons, arpeggiators, faders, and more. What you need to know is that keyboards with performance control features have a higher price tag.
The good thing about having a quality MIDI keyboard for Ableton is that it can change your workflow and help you to produce music organically. Before you invest in a MIDI keyboard, you need to pay attention to certain factors like key count, ease of use, MIDI pads, and more.
Top 7 Best MIDI Keyboard For Ableton Reviews
- Comes with bright backlit LCD screen
- The drum pads are availa2ble in a wide array of bright colors
- Semi-weighted keys for a piano feel
- Lightweight and steady which means it can last a long time
Watch out for
- It is expensive as it costs a few hundred dollars
- Not suitable for beginners looking for an entry keyboard
Akai Professional MPK 249 MIDI Keyboard is the top pick on the list. This keyboard has 49 semi-weighted keys as well as a premium piano-style key bed for a natural feel and unprecedented response. Besides, it features 24 assignable Q Link controllers which comprise 8 control knobs, switches, and faders, which are engineered for the unprecedented virtual instrument, virtual effect control, and DAW.
The MPK249 has a software package that includes Akai Pro MPC Essentials and Ableton Live Lite. It doesn’t matter whether you are composing in a music studio or looking for a device that can translate to live performance. This MIDI keyboard comes with features that offer a professional feel.
- Features a synth-action for a synthesizer feel
- It quickly maps to a DAW
- Comes with an LCD screen that makes it easy to see controls
- Plug and play capabilities
Watch out for
- Velocity sensitivity is not 100 percent accurate
- Not the most intuitive keyboard
M Audio Oxygen 61 Key MIDI Keyboard is not by coincidence that this keyboard comes second on our list. M Audio has a reputation for producing music gears with incredible features at a decent price such as Oxygen 61 IV.
This MIDI keyboard comes with 61 full-size, synth-action keys as well as modulation wheels for expressive performances. Also, it has 8 velocity-sensitive trigger pads which are great for clip launching and beat production.
M Audio Oxygen 61 Key MIDI Keyboard includes faders and assignable knobs that open up a world of possibilities for launching clips, making beats and controlling your DAWs. Another feature we like is plug and play functionality and USB powered specification which offers a simple user-friendly setup. The Oxygen 61 MIDI Keyboard comes with free software which includes Air Music Tech’s Xpand and Ableton Live Light.
- Portable making it easy to travel with
- Comes with an affordable price tag
- Touch-sensitive controls
- Has good build quality
Watch out for
- The screen is small compared to other models
Native Instruments M32 MIDI Controller is the latest, smallest, and least expensive keyboard on the list. This MIDI Controller has 32 compact keys that help control effects and instruments. Also, it comes with a powerful software package, which includes basses, synths, drums, effects, and Ableton Live 10 Lite.
Another feature we like about the Native Instruments M32 is touch-sensitive knobs and an OLED display which helps tweak sound’s parameters in real-time.
- Compact USB powered design that lets you create anywhere
- Has a small and compact design which makes it easy to move
- The drum pads are nice
- Comes with Xpand2 plugin which comes from Air Music
Watch out for
- No DAW included
Alesis V Mini Portable MIDI Keyboard is a powerful, intuitive, and compact MIDI keyboard controller, which is designed for producers and musicians that take command of digital audio workstations and virtual instruments.
This keyboard has impressive features such as USB powered design, mini keys, 4 assignable knobs, and 4 backlit velocity sensitivity pads, keyboard mainstays.
With 25 expressive velocity-sensitive synth-action mini keys, Alesis V Mini Portable MIDI Keyboard has Octave up/ down buttons that you can expand it to play bass lines and full melodic range and play melodies, chords, and bass lines.
- Lightweight as well as a compact which means it won’t consume enough space
- 4 rotary knobs which help control the mixer settings and effects
- One of the cheapest and best 25 key MIDI keyboards
- 8 backlit velocity-sensitive drum pads
- It is easy to set up
Watch out for
- Velocity settings cannot be modified
- Not inclusive of a bench or stand
Alesis V25 USB MIDI Keyboard Controller is a wonderful choice for people on a budget. This versatile controller has a free software editor and can function on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Mac operating systems.
The sliders and knobs are quite easy to map and can automate the keyboard. Alesis V25 USB MIDI Keyboard Controller comes with 25 full-sized, velocity-sensitive keys which are great for playing virtual instruments. Besides, the keyboard has 8 velocity as well as pressure-sensitive backlit pads for clip launching and beat production. What we like about this MIDI controller is very portable and convenient.
- Works with all different MIDI music applications
- It connects via USB to Linux, OSX, Windows, or Apple iOS device
- The MIDI keyboard is easy to use
- 26 programmable real-time controls
Watch out for
- Limited Ableton live support
Nektar Impact LX61+ MIDI Keyboard delivers unmatched control, options, and features which make it easy to set up and create music. This USB MIDI controller keyboard has 61 velocity-sensitive keys.
The 8 pads are wonderful to play, dynamic and sensitive, and ideal for finger drumming. With this musical instrument, you can make music within a few seconds.
All you have to do is plug in MIDI cable and let your iOS, OSX, or Windows operating system do the rest. Additionally, the good thing is that you can use this Nektar Impact LX61+ MIDI Keyboard for Ableton with any music application.
- Additional pedal inputs
- Comes with three pedals
- Responsive feel and incredible realistic
- Has a sleek design
- Features modulation wheels and assignable pitch bend
- The affordable price tag for a semi-weighted 88 key controller
Watch out for
- No drum pads
Finally on this list of best MIDI keyboards for Ableton is M Audio 88 Key Semi-Weighted MIDI Keyboard. This controller is not only lightweight and ultra-portable but comes with 88 fully size semi-weighted keys that offer a natural piano feel.
It features plug and plays a class-compliant and USB powered specifications that offer seamless USB-MIDI connection to play virtual instruments.
M Audio 88 Key Semi-Weighted MIDI Keyboard comes with octave up and down buttons which increase the controller to the full melodic range as well as onboard pitch bend and modulation wheels.
Factors to Consider When Buying A MIDI Keyboard for Ableton
Choosing a new MIDI keyboard for Ableton can be a difficult task, especially if you are new to music theory or music production.
Before you buy a MIDI keyboard, you must do your research. This is because different factors are going to affect your purchasing decision while looking for the best MIDI keyboard for Ableton.
The Number of Keys
The key count of a MIDI keyboard is down to the individual preference. MIDI keyboards come in many different key counts that vary from 25, 32, 37, 49, 61, to 88. Therefore, if the size of your studio is small, you may need to get a small keyboard which ranges from 25, 32, to 37. However, the most common number of keys among music producers is 49 keys.
The following are some of the most important factors to consider before you purchase a MIDI keyboard.
The first and most important thing to take into consideration is your budget. Before you begin to look for a MIDI keyboard, you must have a budget that helps you determine the amount of money you are ready to spend on this product. Having a budget will help you know the quality of the product you are looking for. The price of the MIDI keyboard can start from under $100 to above $3000. Therefore, make sure that you ask yourself how much you are ready to spend and stick to your budget.
In case your studio space is small or you travel and produce music while on the go then you may prefer to get a portable MIDI keyboard which comes with 25 or 37 keys. Note that even if a keyboard has 25 keys it does not mean it is portable. But if a MIDI keyboard is small and compact it means that it is easier to carry. You can choose the slim M-Audio Key station Mini 32 which travels easily.
The use of DAWs (digital work station) is a vital factor that you need to consider before you make your decision. Some of the programs you can look out for while purchasing a MIDI keyboard is whether it comes with Ableton Live, Apple Logic, AVID Pro Tool, FL Studio, and Propeller head Reason. The DAW determines the functionality. Therefore, it is necessary to choose a product that is designed with functionalities in mind.
Another important factor to consider is the action type of the keyboard. A lot of keyboards have a synth, weighted, or semi-weighted hammer action. Synth-action MIDI keyboard does not have a weight attached to the keys.
On the other hand, a semi-weighted key action MIDI keyboard is lightweight on every key. While fully weighted MIDI keyboard comes close to a conventional piano. The fully weighted action type is usually found in digital pianos.
Are you looking for other sounds from your MIDI keyboard that goes beyond the sound produced by a standard piano? Then you should choose a MIDI keyboard that has drum pads. This comes in handy if you want to compose some beats.
How Many Keys Do I Need On a MIDI Keyboard for Ableton
You should determine the number of keys that you need while choosing a MIDI Keyboard for Ableton. There is a wide variety of key number options from different brands.
The number of keys can range from as few as 25 keys which are a small MIDI keyboard to 88 keys which is the size of a grand piano. So, how many keys do I need on a MIDI Keyboard for Ableton? To answer this question you need to know whether you want a full-sized keyboard or a compact unit.
If you are an electronic musician or creating beats for hip hop, you need to choose MIDI keyboards with 25 keys because you will need to play simple chord progressions all the time. But if you are looking for the MIDI keyboard controller which offers more play and functionality with your right and left hands, then you might want to choose one that has 49 or 61 keys.
How to Use a MIDI Keyboard with Ableton?
Before you can start using a keyboard, Ableton Live should be able to recognize that your MIDI keyboard is connected to a computer. The first thing you need to do is install the latest drivers for your MIDI keyboard and follow instructions available in the owner’s manual before you can continue. Once you setup your MIDI keyboard, you can select Ableton Live and start recording MIDI tones.
We will go through the process of connecting your MIDI keyboard and start to record MIDI notes into Ableton Live. Note that you can connect your MIDI keyboard using the USB connection on your laptop/ computer. Alternatively, you can connect using the MIDI inputs which is available on a sound card. Most MIDI keyboard controllers have an option for both. Check out the following Ableton Live MIDI keyboard setup.
Go to Ableton live’s Options tab, click Preferences, and then click Link/ MIDI tab which is available on the left side of the screen. Next, locate your MIDI device which you can find in the input section, and turn the Track button ON to enable it. In case you have a grand piano then you should use that. From there, press a pad/ key to confirm you are getting the MIDI signal.
But this being software, there are many things you can add to it. Just like drum pads or grid-style controllers, the MIDI keyboard has a velocity that responds to how hard you hit the keys. It is possible to change the behavior in accordance with velocity as well as edit the relationship between velocity, volume, and filter cutoff. If you go via the musical instruments in the Live Suite, make sure that each response to velocity. Once you connect a MIDI keyboard you can play the instrument rack that is available in the track.
3 Top Recommended MIDI Keyboard for Ableton On the Market
There are good reasons why you should buy every product on this list of the best MIDI keyboard for Ableton. What you need to do is base your decision on the one which best suits your needs. That means you need to take into account your music studio, budget, as well as style of play.
When you do that, you will eliminate the keyboards which you do not need and will be left with a small list of MIDI keyboards that you can choose from. Hopefully, the above list of the best MIDI keyboard and buying guide will make your decision easier.